Essential oil obtained by hydrodistillation and two different solvent extractions (petroleum ether and ethanol) from five Zingiberaceae species: ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe.), galanga (Alpinia galanga Sw.), turmeric (Curcuma longa L.), kaempferia (Boesenbergia pandurata Holtt.) and bastard cardamom (Amomum xanthioides Wall.) was characterized. Volatile components of all extracts were analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The major components of ginger, turmeric, galangal, bastard cardamom and kaempferia were zingiberene, turmerone, methyl chavicol, and gamma-terpinene, respectively. Their antibacterial effects towards Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus and Listeria monocytogenes were tested by a disc diffusion assay. Essential oil of kaempferia and bastard cardamom obtained by hydrodistillation extraction could inhibit growth of all tested bacteria. Essential oil of ginger extracted by hydrodistillation had the highest efficiency against three positive strains of bacteria (S. aureus, B. cereus and L. monocytogenes), with a minimum concentration to inhibit B. cereus and L. monocytogenes of 6.25 mg/mL.